How YouTube Works: A Video About YouTube's Video Technology

I came across this little gem on Reddit today. Created by the Computerphile Channel, it goes into a bit of detail about how YouTube works and why videos buffer - explained by YouTube employees themselves. It's not an official video but there are a few nuggets of gold, particularly how much the spinner is hated inside of YouTube as it is outside and that there are .gif, .jpg, CSS and Flash animation versions of it that are presented to the viewer depending on their location. If the content you are watching starts to buffer, it means that YouTube are busy finding another version of the video for you - they want you to have the best experience possible and any appearance of that spinny wheel thing means they have failed, even when circumstances may be completely outside of their control.

They also confirm the challenges that are faced from the uploading and then viewing of video content from so many different devices. Did you know that when you upload a video it will exist in dozens of different types of resolutions and formats in a couple of data centres around the world? And that the more that video is played the closer to a data centre near you it's likely to get?

There has been a truckload of YouTube bashing this week, and I think that a review of the new comments system would certainly be welcome, for reputation management purposes if nothing else. But that aside, it's easy to forget the amount of vision, skill, work and passion that has gone into creating this incredible site that's free for everyone to use. If you're not feeling the love for YouTube this week, this little insight into what they do and how they do it might put that smile back on your face.

  • Andra Nicolaescu

    A really cool video..about videos. :)

  • Josh Rimer

    Wow, interesting video... there really is a ton that goes on behind the scenes that most people don't realize to make YouTube work the way it does!

  • Hank Oswald

    youtube is boring now

    • Mark Robertson

      Well, not the most exciting comment either, Hank. None-the-less, thanks for commenting ;-)

      • Hank Oswald

        im serious, youtube is boirng now, there is spam everywhere and people are trolling more than ever, youtube is a sinking sail

        • Ken Fisher

          How can there be a spam problem? Isn't the algo looking at view time more than anything? Higher view time generally means better quality doesn't it? Maybe I'm not looking at your industry. Since that change I'm seeing a fairly clean layout where I am focused.

          I just wish Google had implemented something like this in the regular SERPS years ago before the MFA mess.

        • Hank Oswald


        • Sid Walker

          Rip youtube

        • Owen Hemsath

          I agree. Our YT channel is not spammed too much at all and we get a lot of unexplained but welcome traffic! I think the YT experience is very personal and mimics the user.